Blood pressure is the force of blood on the walls of your arteries as the heart pumps it to the rest of the body. Blood pressure fluctuates depending on the needs of your heart, which is determined by the level of activity that you’re doing. High blood pressure or hypertension is a condition where the blood pressure remains constantly higher than normal. Normal blood pressure is 120/80mmHg. A reading that’s above 120/80mmHg and ranging up to 139/89mmHg, is considered high and is medically termed as hypertension. Who’s at more risk of getting hypertension?
Uncontrollable High Blood Pressure Risk Factors
Statistics show that 65 percent of Americans aged above 60 have high blood pressure. The reason being that our blood vessels thicken and become stiff as we age. When the blood vessels lose flexibility, adjusting to the heart’s needs becomes difficult. These changes in your blood vessels and arteries increase the risk for high blood pressure. Until the age of 64, men are most affected. At 65, women become more at risk. However, the trend seems to be changing and an increasing number of children and teens are now at risk for high blood pressure. This is probably due to an unhealthy lifestyle that’s contributing to being overweight and obesity.
Race or Ethnicity
People of African heritage develop high blood pressure at an early age compared to whites. The condition is also more severe in African Americans and some drugs are not as effective in treating high blood pressure in people of the African race.
If hypertension runs in the family, then the probability of you getting it is high. Genetics are linked to the risk of high blood pressure (HBP). Research indicates that certain gene variations and mutations can increase the chances of getting HBP. Likewise, DNA changes during fetal development may also lead to hypertension. Additionally, if you or your partner has HBP, your children may be at risk.
Men are more likely to be diagnosed with hypertension when they hit 45 years. Between 45 and 64 years, both men and women are at risk. Beyond 65 years, women become more likely than men to have HBP. This may be due to the changes that come with menopause. Pregnant women may also develop high blood pressure, known as pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH), which usually goes away after delivery. This makes it extremely important to monitor your blood pressure during pregnancy.
Having kidney disease can lead to high blood pressure. This condition can be made worse if you have hypertension.
Controllable High Blood Pressure Risk Factors Obesity and Being Overweight
Being overweight strains your heart and circulation, and this could lead to serious health conditions such as HBP and heart disease. Excess weight demands more blood to supply oxygen and essential nutrients to your organs and tissues. This means that the volume of blood being circulated through the blood vessels increases and so does the blood pressure on the walls of your arteries.
Excessive Tobacco Use
Tobacco use, be it smoking or chewing raises your blood pressure and damages the lining surrounding your artery walls. This causes your arteries to narrow, thus reducing the effectiveness of the arteries in carrying blood. Secondhand smoking is also dangerous and can increase the risk of heart disease.
Excessive Alcohol Intake
If you’re a heavy drinker, you put a lot of strain on your heart. And as a result, you risk damaging your heart and increasing your blood pressure. If you must drink, do so in moderation, with experts recommending a maximum of two drinks per day for men and one drink for women. One drink is equated to 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or one and a half ounces of hard liquor.
Stress is known to cause a spike in blood pressure. Although this is temporary, constant stress can become a real problem. How you respond to the stress can also aggravate the matter, for example, if you turn to drinking, overeating or smoking.
Excess Salt or Sodium in Your Diet
Too much sodium causes your body to produce excess fluids. This puts pressure on your heart. Additionally, foods that are high in trans-fat and sugar add the risk for hypertension.
Lack of Exercise
Exercise is a healthy way to keep fit, avoid certain medical conditions and burn extra fat. Exercise also increases circulation and triggers the release of hormones that help your blood vessels to relax. In turn, this lowers the risk for hypertension as well as many other conditions such as heart disease, obesity and being overweight.
Managing High Blood Pressure
The following steps can help you manage hypertension:
- Limit your alcohol intake.
- Quit smoking.
- Turn to a healthy diet.
- Avoid a sedentary lifestyle.
- Regular exercise.
- Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits.
- Avoid stress triggers.
- Get enough sleep.
- Reduce salt intake in your diets.
It’s highly recommended to get your blood pressure checked regularly to ensure you’re in the safe zone. If the blood pressure is constantly high, starting early treatment can help to reverse it.
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